Ichiro Visits George Sisler’s Grave
Ichiro Suzuki has always been one of my favorite players but he became an even more favorite player after visiting the grave of George Sisler in St. Louis on Monday.
Sisler’s family was present when Suzuki had broken Sisler’s single season record of 257 hits in 2004. The record had stood for 84 years. A lot of players today probably have no idea who Sisler was but Suzuki took time to honor him by laying flowers on his grave on Monday away from the All Star Game hoopla going on in St. Louis.
These are a couple of quotes from ESPN.com by Suzuki in regards to the Sisler family:
“I wanted to do that for a grand upperclassman of the baseball world,” Ichiro told MLB.com. “I think it’s only natural for someone to want to do that, to express my feelings in that way.”
“There’s not many chances to come to St. Louis,” Ichiro said, according to the Seattle Times. “In 2004, it was the first time I crossed paths with him, and his family generously came all the way to Seattle.”
Sisler played his last major league season at the age of 37 in 1930. He had 200 hits in six seasons. His .340 batting average is tenth best among players who played all their career after 1902. It was easier to hit .400 before 1903 because foul balls were not strikes until the 1903 season.
Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb hit .400 three times during their careers while Sisler was the only other player to hit .400 more than once when he hit .407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922.
Sisler also stole a lot of bases stealing 51 bases in 1922 and stole 375 bases during his career. He was not known for his power since he hit only 102 homers during his career but he played a third of his career before Babe Ruth made the home run popular.
Not only was Sisler a good hitter but compiled a 5-6 record and a 2.35 ERA as pitcher appearing in 24 games. His son Dave pitched seven years in the majors. Two of his five wins were in complete game wins over the Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.
When George was working for the Dodgers in 1950 his son Dick was playing for the Phillies. On the last day of the 1950 season Dick hit a three run homer defeating the Dodgers in the tenth inning to give the Phillies “Whiz Kids” the chance to play in the 1950 World Series.
The Dodgers would lose again in 1951 when Bobby Thomson would hit a home run that made the Dodgers lose in their last game for the second straight season except the 1951 loss came in a playoff game with the Giants.
He finished his career with 2812 hits but only played 15 seasons and was not offered a contract in 1931 despite hitting .309 in his last season.
Ichiro Suzuki is hitting .332 lifetime only eight points lower than Sisler and needs only 72 hits to post 200 hits for his ninth straight season. He is 67 hits short of notching his 2000th hit at the age of 35.
He has been on the AL All Star team the first nine seasons of his career. He has won a Gold Glove in each of his last eight seasons. He has been first in hits in six of his eight AL seasons.
It is good to see a Japanese player pay respect to a player who was born in 1893 and died 36 years ago. Hopefully we will hear about American players respecting the players from the past the way Ichiro did on Monday.